The Minority in a group photograph with some of the farmers. In the middle is Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu
The Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) in parliament on Tuesday interacted with cocoa farmers at Sefwi Wiawso in the Western Region and urged them to rise up against the government for deliberately refusing to increase producer price of cocoa and also not paying their bonuses over the last three years.
“The government ought to pay you 70 percent of Freight On Board (FOB) price of cocoa which is GH¢479 per bag of cocoa instead of the GH¢212 per 64kg bag of cocoa you have been receiving over the past three years,” the Minority told a large number of bemused cocoa farmers who congregated at the John Bitar Conference Centre at Sefwi Wiawso to listen to them.
At the specially-arranged forum to interact with cocoa farmers and also address the media on current developments in the shrinking cocoa industry, it emerged that there was high incidence of diversion of fertilizers meant for cocoa farmers in the Sefwi area, which was seriously affecting produce.
A participant at the forum alleged that about a month ago, the father of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Juaboso in the Sefwi area, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, was arrested by the police with three other accomplices for transporting 365 bags of fertilizer to Kumasi without official authorisation.
When the MP’s father, whose name was given as Nana Boakye, was questioned by the police, he said his son authorised him to send the fertilizer to Kumasi.
According to Kwabena Amankwah-Asiedu, the one who made the allegation at the forum, Mr. Akandoh’s father was subsequently arraigned before the Bibiani circuit court about two weeks ago for allegedly stealing fertilizer and was remanded into prison custody for one month; but just after serving one week, Mr. Akandoh’s father had been released and walking a free man.
The farmers therefore asked the Minority group to seriously take up the matter and use their parliamentary privileges to get to the bottom of it because the issue of diversion of government fertilizer meant for poor farmers by some NDC party officers in the cocoa growing areas was becoming very rampant.
The farmers also did not understand why the Sefwi area, which is the heartbeat of cocoa production in the country, has one of the poorest road networks.
“We hear of ‘cocoa roads’ which we believe are constructed in the cocoa growing areas, yet our roads are the worst in the country,” one cocoa farmer posited.
Some of the cocoa farmers also expressed serious concern that their children do not benefit from cocoa scholarships, even though it was out of their toils that the scholarship scheme was established.
The Minority members who included all members on the Agriculture Committee and the Minority Leader, Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, told the cocoa farmers that the NDC government had mastered the art of making money wrongly to balance its accounts at the expense of poor cocoa farmers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this government is not a listening government because as the Minority fighting for the cause of the poor cocoa farmers, we have trumpeted this over and over again but the government has refused to listen; that is why we have come to you to let you know how the government, which you have voted into power, does not care for you,” the Minority spokesperson on Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, disclosed.
Meanwhile, the NDC MP for Juaboso in a reaction to the allegation made against his father, described it as ‘wicked, unfounded and politically-motivated.’
He was heard on Okay Fm – an Accra-based radio station – yesterday as saying that it was rather he and the district chief executive for Juaboso who arrested the man who was transporting the fertilizer to Kumasi; and the case is currently pending in court. He however, failed to mention the man involved.
From Thomas Fosu Jnr, Sefwi Wiawso
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